In today's Gospel reading, we are given a unique and intimate look into the very heart of the Blessed Trinity.
As Jesus describes the relationship between himself, his Father, and the Holy Spirit, one central point emerges: God's very life is one of communion. The Trinity is a relationship of giving and receiving, a communion of life and love. God exists as a relationship of Persons.
This reality brings us to a very important question: What does the Trinity mean for us, as we live our lives?
The communion of Persons of the Holy Trinity reminds us of the importance of relationships in our world, and at the same time provides the model for what these relationships are supposed to look like. When the Scriptures say we are made in the image and likeness of God, it means we were made to live like the Trinity. We are made for communion, for relationship, with God and the people God has placed in our lives. God wants us to model and witness to him as Trinity, which means we are made to love as he loved. We are to give ourselves totally in relationship with him and with others. Only when we live in selfgiving love, like God himself, will we find our fulfillment in life.
Unpack the First Reading
Proverbs is part of that body of writing in the Old Testament that we call the Wisdom Literature. This passage is part of the second discourse by Wisdom, here the feminine personification of a divine attribute, the attendant that sits by God's throne (Wisdom 9:4) and who is associated with God's work in ordering creation. The ancients sought wisdom with the same energy with which we today seek information. To be wise was not simply to amass knowledge of many "data points" but to understand the reasons for things, the meaning behind things, the connections between things. To know these was real wisdom, and the place to go for this wisdom was to God, because he is the designer and author of all things.
But in God his attributes, including wisdom, are more than qualities that he has. God is not merely wise, he is Wisdom. This is already hinted at in this passage from the Old Testament where we see Wisdom as preceding the work of God's creation and even as his "craftsman" in carrying out that work. In the prologue to John's Gospel we find that the Word of God, the eternal Son, "was in the beginning with God" and that "all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:2-3, RSV). And so on this Sunday of the Holy Trinity the Church offers us this beautiful reflection on the Son as the very Wisdom through whom God has ordered the world. To know him is to know the connections between things, to know the reason for, the very meaning of the world itself. To know him is wisdom.
Unpack the Second Reading
Here in his letter to the Romans, St. Paul demonstrates the principle we saw in the first reading from Proverbs. Wisdom promises that "he who listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of evil" (Proverbs 1:33, RSV). And that is exactly the "peace with God" that we have through faith in Christ. The supernatural grace of faith (and, of course love, see 1 Corinthians 13:2, 13) brings with it the grace of the "hope of the glory of God," that is, the hope of heaven, where grace becomes eternal glory. The wonderful trinity of gifts - faith, hope and love that Paul talks about here are signs of the work of the Trinity of Persons (here called "God," "our Lord Jesus Christ," and "the Holy Spirit") in us. These gifts make us so wise as to even understand that riddle which has plagued man from the beginning, the problem of suffering. Paul tells us that in Christ- the One who suffered for us-our afflictions are even things about which we should boast, because their meaning is now made clear by him and through the love that "has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit ." Affliction spells the hope of glory for those of us who, in faith, have received the love of God in our hearts, such that we are conformed to Christ in his Passion, death, and Resurrection.
Unpack the Gospel
In this passage from the long Last Supper discourse in John's Gospel, we see part of Jesus' frank disclosure of the Trinitarian mystery to his disciples by way of the Trinitarian missions. In chapters 14, 15, and 16, Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit to his Church, the "Spirit of truth," who will "guide you to all truth." This divine "Counselor" is the shared gift of the Father and Son to continue the work of God in the world after Christ's Ascension to the right hand of the Father. Jesus even promises that through this "Spirit of truth" he will disclose to his apostles more of the content of the truth which he had been sent to reveal. That is, the Spirit would continue to teach the apostles the full truth of Jesus Christ. And once they had died and the time of public revelation had come to a close, the Spirit would continue to guide the Church in understanding all that Jesus had said and done in revealing the truth that the Father had given him to disclose. The Spirit is the one who testifies to the truth of the Son, who himself reveals everything that he had heard from the Father. In the face of this final gift from Jesus of the Trinitarian mystery; the disciples exclaim, 'Ah, now you are speaking plainly....by this we believe that you came from God" (John 16:29, 30, RSV).
Reflect & Discuss
Watch the short Opening the Word video on the “Community” tab at StMichael.FORMED.org, then reflect on these questions:
Today's Gospel provides a unique glimpse into the very heart of God as Trinity and the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What did you learn about God from the Gospel reading? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
The video presenter, Jules Miles, talked about a passage from Genesis that makes reference to God using the plural words "us" and "our": "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). What insights might you have gained from realizing that the use of the plural is one of the first hints of the Holy Trinity in Scripture?
Jules discussed how God's inner life is a communion of self-giving love. According to her, what is the difference between a "self giving" love and a "self-getting" love?
Reprinted from Opening the Word Leader Guide with permission from Augustine Institute.